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Handheld NQR Detection Device to Identify Counterfeit Drugs or Illegal Substances

Analyzes Elemental Signatures of a Compound Quickly and Accurately in the Field

This handheld nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR) detection device scans elemental signatures of a substance in a test field to help rapidly identify counterfeit drugs or illegal substances. The World Health Organization estimates that counterfeit drugs cause more than a million deaths annually. They cost people $21 billion worldwide and make up 10 to 30 percent of pharmaceutical markets, depending on the country. Analysts expect the market for counterfeit drug detection devices to reach 1.3 billion USD by 2025 . Identifying substances typically requires collecting a sample from the field and physically transporting it to a lab for analysis. Reliably combatting counterfeit drugs or other illegal substances will require rapid in-field detection.


Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a handheld chemical analyzer that can identify a substance in the field without needing to bring a sample back to a lab. The portable device measures nuclear quadrupole resonance signatures to determine what is in the sample, reliably identifying counterfeit drugs and specific illegal materials.




Handheld nuclear quadrupole resonance detection device that analyzes substances in the field for elemental signatures to determine their identity



  • Performs nuclear quadrupole resonance detection, enabling rapid, very specific chemical analysis to identify illegal substances
  • Easily replaceable parts, swappable coil attachments, and battery power, resulting in a lower manufacture and maintenance costs
  • One computer connects to multiple handheld devices, supporting simultaneous analysis of multiple samples
  • Calibrates using a low voltage, digitally programmable impedance matching network, allowing batteries to power the device


The nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR) detection system comprises an analog front-end device, controlled by someone in the field, and a digital back-end, containing a signal processor and computer. The front-end handheld device uses one of three interchangeable detector or sample coils to analyze the substance. An impedance matching network tunes the coils resonant frequency to measure the sample’s nuclear quadrupole resonance features. The device sends the digitalized data wirelessly to the back-end, which decrypts it for analysis. The system then compares the data to stored nuclear quadrupole resonance signatures to determine the substance. It can send the identity of the substance to a mobile application or to a cloud server for storage and later review.

Patent Information: